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Our Picks for the Very Best Car Cleaning Products

best car cleaning products
Best Car Cleaning Products for 2024Car and Driver


"Hearst Magazines and Yahoo may earn commission or revenue on some items through these links."

This article was updated in March 2024 with new products and info.

Keeping your car clean not only enhances its appearance but helps prolong its life. With so many car cleaning products on the market, choosing the best ones for your needs can be overwhelming. From car shampoo to scratch removal polishes, this roundup revisits our top picks for cleaning products that will leave your vehicle looking, performing, and smelling like new.

Every one of these products has been tested and trusted by the Gear Team, and each one came out on top in the individual test of each category. We considered factors such as effectiveness, ease of use, and value to ensure that each of these car cleaning products is worth the investment. Whether you're a car owner looking to keep your vehicle in top condition or a professional detailer seeking the best products for your business, here are the best car cleaning products you can buy.

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More Car Cleaning: Best Car Trash Cans | Best Car Wheel Cleaners | Best Car Interior Cleaners


Things to Consider When Buying Car Cleaning Products

Car cleaning product shelves are stocked with hundreds of products and brands. What should you look for? Here are some thing to keep in mind while shopping.

Type of cleaning

Do you need an all-purpose cleaner or something specific for the interior or exterior of your car? Get as specific a product as you can to ensure the best results.

Brand

Choose a reputable brand that specializes in car cleaning products. These brands will have a better understanding of what your car needs and will offer products that are safe and effective. Our favorites include Adam's Polishes, Chemical Guys, Griot's Garage, Meguiar's, and more.

Ease of use

Look for products that are easy to use and apply, especially if you're not experienced with a meticulous car cleaning regimen. Some are available as wipes for portable, easy use. There are also various two-in-one products that clean and protect with a single step.

Ingredients

Check the product's ingredients to ensure it's safe for your car's surfaces. Avoid products with harsh chemicals that can damage the paint or interior.

Compatibility

Check the compatibility of the product with your car's materials. For example, some products may not be suitable for leather or vinyl seats. Likewise, some waxes might be more ideal for specific paint and finishes than others. Always read the manufacturer's labels to understand what materials the products work best with.

Price

Consider the product's price and compare it with similar products on the market. However, don't compromise on quality for a lower price. Remember, high-quality products may cost more initially but may also save you money in the long run.


The Best Car Cleaning Products You Can Buy

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash

Meguiar's is a staple in garages across the world, and with good reason: the company knows how to produce quality cleaning products that help keep your vehicle in tip-top shape inside and out.

Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash both washes and conditions with its high-foam formula. The product is clear-coat safe and can be used in standard bucket and foam sprayers. It took the top spot in our best car wash soap test, beating out five competitors from other notable brands for its value and ease of use.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071HR14SJ?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$37.32</p>

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Meguiar's Gold Class Car Wash

amazon.com

$37.32

Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant

Chemical Guys knows how to make quality cleaning products, and its Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant is no exception.

It won Best Overall in our best car interior cleaners test by effectively cleaning a variety of surfaces while also protecting them against future abuse. As a bonus, Total Interior is also available in wipes for those who don't want to bother with a microfiber cloth.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B071ZTPRJL?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$11.97</p>

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Chemical Guys Total Interior Cleaner and Protectant

amazon.com

$11.97

Adam's Polishes Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner

No matter how well you try to protect the carpet in your car, it will inevitably get dirty. However, if you clean up messes and footprints in a timely manner, you can prevent permanent stains and damage to your floorboard coverings.

In our comprehensive car carpet cleaners test, Adam's Polishes Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner took the top spot thanks to its performance on mud and wine stains. It works great on cloth seats as well. It's also relatively affordable, making it a fantastic value. This combo comes with a brush attachment.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07WMTMWM1?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Adam's Polishes Carpet & Upholstery Cleaner</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$21.24</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner

Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner is our favorite auto glass cleaner. We noted the streak-free cleaning performance and bottle ergonomics as the top perks.

There wasn't any residue left behind, and the picture below really showcases its cleaning power. The only thing holding it back from being top dog was a grippier dry feel than the 3M; this grip will grab onto dust and dirt a bit easier and shorten the longevity of the clean look.But for a quick, powerful glass-cleaning product, this might be your best option.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006FUT09G?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Meguiar's Perfect Clarity Glass Cleaner</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$11.42</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Weiman Leather Conditioner

Leather cleaner is essential for maintaining the longevity and appearance of leather car interiors. They not only help remove dirt, grime, and stains but also prevent cracking and drying of the leather, which can occur due to prolonged exposure to the sun and heat.

Weiman Leather Cleaner was the Best Overall pick in our best car leather cleaners test with a combination of both cleaning performance and post-cleaning feel. It easily removed crayon and lipstick and left the leather feeling supple with a slight shine—precisely what you want in an all-in-one cleaner and conditioner.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073BMMVBT?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Weiman Leather Conditioner</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$16.88</p>

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Weiman Leather Conditioner

amazon.com

$16.88

Griot's Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner

Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner was the most capable wheel cleaner we tested, breaking through the most dirt and debris in our best wheel cleaner product test.

This pH-balanced cleaner is safe to use on all types of wheels, including painted, polished, and chrome finishes. Simply spray the cleaner onto the wheel, let it sit for a few minutes, and then rinse it off. Your wheels will look good as new.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00J5CVMCO?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Griot's Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$21.99</p>

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Griot's Garage Heavy Duty Wheel Cleaner

amazon.com

$21.99

Formula 1 Scratch Out

Little is as frustrating as seeing a new scratch on your vehicle. While it's unlikely it'll ever be restored to its full glory, plenty of products out there can minimize the visibility of scratches on your paint.

Formula 1's Scratch Out Liquid was named Best One-Step Product in our best car scratch remover test and earned its spot by being affordable, effective, and, most important, simple to use. Simply apply Formula 1, buff in a circular motion, and repeat as needed until the scratch becomes less visible.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B012OTKUTK?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Formula 1 Scratch Out</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$15.95</p>

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Formula 1 Scratch Out

amazon.com

$15.95

Chemical Guys Big Mouth Max Release Foam Cannon

Chemical Guys Big Mouth Max Release Foam Cannon lives up to its name. Its adjustable mouth was the largest of all the units we tested and offered the widest spray pattern, with smooth foam that nicely held on to the surface of the vehicle. The metal fittings were sturdy, and while the bottle could probably be a bit wider for a more stable base when placed on the ground, the plastic itself was plenty thick enough. There was minimal leakage when the bottle was tilted upside down, and the 34-ounce bottle holds more than enough soap to get even the largest vehicles foamed up in a single session.

While all of this makes for the best overall unit we tested, it does come at a higher price than most; whether that's worth the extra money or not is up to you.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B091KLW5Y8?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Chemical Guys Big Mouth Max Release Foam Cannon</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$99.88</p><span class="copyright">Amazon</span>

Rain-X Latitude 2-In-1 Wiper Blades

Windshield wipers aren't traditionally considered a cleaning product. Still, they help keep your ride's windshield free from rain, snow, and mud when the elements give you hell. To that end, they ensure your windshield stays clean and maximizes visibility, making for a cleaner car and safer drive.

Rain-X Latitude 2-in-1 Water Repellent Wiper Blades feature the company's patented Rain-X water repellency formula that applies the coating directly to your vehicle's windshield whenever you turn on your wipers. Maximum performance with minimal effort? Hard to argue with that. These blades took the top spot as the Best Overall in our best wiper blades test.

<p><a href="https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016NA9Y4S?tag=syn-yahoo-20&ascsubtag=%5Bartid%7C10048.g.43295224%5Bsrc%7Cyahoo-us" rel="nofollow noopener" target="_blank" data-ylk="slk:Shop Now;elm:context_link;itc:0;sec:content-canvas" class="link ">Shop Now</a></p><p>Rain-X Latitude 2-In-1 Wiper Blades</p><p>amazon.com</p><p>$16.59</p>

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Rain-X Latitude 2-In-1 Wiper Blades

amazon.com

$16.59

FAQs

What types of cleaning products are available for cars?

A wide variety of cleaning products are available for cars, including car shampoo, tire cleaners, window cleaners, scratch removers, and wax.

These products are specially formulated for car use and can help remove dirt, grime, and other contaminants from your vehicle. Some products are designed for specific areas of the car, such as the wheels or windows, while others are more general purpose and can be used throughout the vehicle.

Can I use household cleaning products on my car?

While some household cleaning products might be safe for use on your car, using them is generally not recommended. Household cleaners can contain harsh chemicals that may damage your car's paint, upholstery, or other surfaces.

Additionally, some products may leave behind residue that can be difficult to remove. It's best to use cleaning products specifically designed for cars to ensure that you don't cause any damage.

What tools do I need to clean my car?

Some essential tools you'll need to clean your car include a bucket, a sponge or wash mitt, a hose or pressure washer, a chamois or microfiber towel for drying, and cleaning products such as car shampoo and window cleaner.

You may also want to invest in specialized tools for cleaning certain parts of your car, such as a wheel brush or upholstery cleaner. It's important to use high-quality tools and products to ensure that you don't damage your car's surfaces while cleaning.


midsection of man cleaning car
warodom changyencham - Getty Images

Why Trust Us?

Hearst Autos combines the talent, resources, and expertise of three of the largest, most influential automotive publications in the world. The Gear Team has tested a wide variety of automotive products, parts, accessories, and gear, such as car glass cleaners, pressure washers, and interior cleaners. We get our hands on each and every product we test. Most are purchased; some are supplied by manufacturers.

The Gear Team doesn't need to game algorithms for traffic or promote lousy products for clicks. We're more concerned with our reputation and the trust that our readers have in Autoweek, Car and Driver, and Road & Track to deliver honest opinions and expert evaluations.

Visit our Tested & Trusted page to see the very best in automotive gear. Read more about our product testing and evaluation process here.

best car cleaning products
Michael Simari - Car and Driver

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